The SNO Report: SNO recognizes 27 student websites as SNO Distinguished Sites

The 2015-16 academic year is almost over –– in fact, for many of you, it already is. Whether you’re struggling through your last week of finals or you had finished cleaning out your locker weeks ago, summer break is here, and we know you’re all excited about the prospect of taking some much-needed time off. Journalism programs in the SNO network have something else to look forward to, too –– the recognition and pride that comes with being named a SNO Distinguished Site.

Twenty-seven student news websites earned the title of 2016 SNO Distinguished Site after earning badges in each of six areas of distinction. These badges recognize achievement in what SNO views as the best practices of a successful modern news website: story page design, writing, multimedia, continuing coverage, audience engagement, and overall excellence in website design.

The sites awarded this year’s SNO Distinguished Site award are:

SNO created the Distinguished Sites program two years ago with the goal of eliminating the ambiguity of what makes a good online student news site. SNO provides detailed guidelines for each badge, and encourages schools to make improvements and reapply if at first they don’t succeed.

Natalie Rebetsky, adviser of the Distinguished Site award winning Lance at Linganore High School, believes the recognition program encouraged her staff to really explore the features of their SNO site, explaining that “this is also the first time we really looked a side rails, grids, etc. . ., and several students changed their stories and re-published them –– with great enthusiasm.  We designed a new series that will be a container story with chapters –– something we would not have thought of before this semester.”

With many of this season’s Distinguished Sites being repeat awardees, the program has fostered an atmosphere of continuing excellence.

Overall, a total of 102 different scholastic news sitesearned a variety of badges over the course of the past six months, with 27 of those programs earning all six badges and earning the title of SNO Distinguished Site.

The 2017 SNO Distinguished Sites program will be announced at the start of the 2017 academic school year.  We will have some exciting changes to look forward to concerning new (and slightly revamped) badges moving into next season; we will be introducing a new badge based on Best Practices and Web Standards, which will look at a variety of elements, such as your site’s editorial statement, staff page, and the appropriate use and crediting of images. We will also be re-working the current Site Excellence badge into a more focused badge called Homepage Excellence, which will look exclusively at the design and layout of your site’s homepage.

The SNO Report: Best of the Best of SNO

Well, we made it – another school year means another nine months of stellar Best of SNO submissions from so many supremely talented young journalists – and what better way to wrap up another fantastic season than to acknowledge our very favorite stories published on Best of SNO this school year? A huge congratulations to all of the writers and staffs below! If you don’t see your school listed here, don’t be discouraged – we easily could have selected enough favorites to come up with hundreds of award categories, if only we had the time to spare.

Without further ado, we present the 2015-2016 Best of Best of SNO!

Best editorial on a school or local issue:
Not-so-socially-acceptable mediaMimi Wright, Kirkwood High School

Best editorial on a national or international issue:
Tick-tock goes the…bomb?Summer Thomad, Southwest Career and Technical Academy

Best opposing viewpoints:
Versus: Pro-Choice and Pro-LifeRebekah Rosenstein, Michelle McDaniel, Legacy High School

Best use of infographic:
How should you spend your Thanksgiving season?Justin Sweeney, Mary Stuart Murray, Kirkwood High School

Best use of innovative design:
The New GenderationMadeline Bowne, Ashley Cooper, Sonia Kim, Lanxi Li and Jenna Myers, Cherry Hill High School East

Best sports coverage:
My life on the rinkCaroline Puckett, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Best news coverage, health edition:
Crickets become the new protein sourceJohn Bandek, Clark Magnet High School

Best news coverage, education edition:
Standardized redundancy: The failure of American testingHenry Dikeman, Apple Valley High School

Best political coverage:
Kanye graduates from hip-hop to politicsBria Blassingame, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School

Best metajournalism:
Publications statewide must stand behind first amendmentKaylee Chamberlain and Hannah Bernstein, St. Louis Park High School

Best movie review:
The Force falls asleep in new Star Wars movieSophie Haddad, Carlmont High School

Best use of story page template:
Top 15 albums of 2015Henry Youtt, Liberty High School

Best investigative reporting by an individual:
Schools not notified of students with sex offensesZia Kelly, Lawrence High School

Best investigative reporting by a group:
Homelessness in Iowa: A hidden issueAndi Munford, Vivian Le, Waukee High School

Best feature in a series:
Kit-fox probe beginsJoe Bergman, Bakersfield College

Best technology exposé:
The social media maskLilly Stannard, John Carroll School

Best photojournalism:
A day at the shelter Minju Kang, West Ranch High School

Best student profile:
SongbirdAlex Walters, McKinney Boyd High School

Best alumnus profile:
Journalism students speak to ABC evening reporter Natasha BarrettKamryn Kobal, Cypress Ranch High School

Best creative editorial:
I didn’t know – Nicholas Smith, Lovejoy High School

Best informative journalism:
A breakdown of what it means to be transgenderRose Rodriguez, Sartell High School

The Logan Aimone best critter profile:
Meet the Geese 2: Geesepocolypse Hannah Hoffmann, Parkway West High School
(Honorable mention: Unique pets: four students share their crittersEmma Froseth, Benilde-St. Margaret’s)

And there you have it! As always, Best of SNO will be taking a break over the summer, but will resume publishing your fantastic work come August. Have a great summer, and we can’t wait to read more of your submissions next year!

The SNO Report: We’re bringing SNO to a summer workshop near you

Members of the SNO Patrol are hitting the road this summer in unprecedented fashion to deliver SNO-centric and digital media training at regional workshops throughout the country.  Review our schedule below, and make plans for you or your staff members to join us at one of these terrific workshops.

Fundraising made easy

Just a reminder that we recently announced new fundraising partnership aimed at helping our members raise funds for any expenses — workshop fees, convention travel, equipment purchases, printing costs, etc.  To view a live fundraiser, visit this link. To get started with your own fundraiser, just fill out this form.

SNODrift Webinars

Join us for our SNODrift webinar tomorrow, April 21st, at 3:00 p.m. EST/2:00 p.m. CST. This week, we’ll be discussing basic homepage design, focusing primarily on all of the features located in the SNO Design Options section of your website. You can join the live webinar – keep in mind that some school networks do block web-based calling, so you may need a phone to access the audio portion of the conference.

Sixteen SNO customer sites awarded the Pacemaker by NSPA

On Saturday, April 16, 2016 the National Scholastic Press Association announced its top awards for scholastic press organizations.  We are pleased to share that 16 of the 25 Online Pacemaker Award winners are members of the SNO community, and eight of those 16 are first-time Pacemaker winners.

The winning sites are:

Congratulations to the advisers and staffs of these tremendous programs.  For a complete list of winners, please visit the NSPA website.

The SNO Report: Two new ways to raise money for your program ?

We know that budgets are tight today for schools, and scholastic journalism programs can be hit especially hard by funding cuts. That’s why we are excited to announce two new programs designed to help teachers and students on the SNO platform raise funds for their journalism programs.

Fundraising made easy

We’ve partnered with Pledgebrite to offer SNO customers simple online tools for fundraising. Through this partnership, your program is able to set up a crowdfunding site within minutes to raise funds for equipment purchases, printing and hosting costs, field trips, conventional travel, and anything else your journalism program needs.

All donations are managed online through credit card payments, so there’s no need for you and your staff to spend hours trying to track down the cash. When your fundraising campaign ends, we’ll send you a check for 85% of what’s collected online. The remaining 15% goes toward paying the credit card fees and serving costs related to the fundraiser. It’s as simple as that.

To view a sample fundraiser, visit this link. To get started with your own fundraiser, just fill out this form.

Online advertising marketplace

The two biggest hassles in selling online advertising are collecting the money and creating the ads. We’ve solved both of these problems with a new self-service online advertising marketplace. Instead of trading emails with advertisers and waiting for their checks to arrive in the mail, you can now direct your advertising prospects to your site’s listing on the marketplace to purchase their ad and upload their own creative. You can rest assured that no inappropriate ads will make it onto your site, as all ads are reviewed and approved by SNO staff before going live.

When an ad is sold and approved for your site, we’ll apply 65% of the earnings as a credit to your SNO account. The remaining 35% goes toward paying the credit card fees and the administrative costs associated with licensing the marketplace software and managing the financial transactions. Any earnings above and beyond your SNO fees will be issued back to your program at the end of each school year.

To view a sample list, visit this link. To add your site to the online marketplace, just fill out this form.

Have questions about our new programs? Just drop us a line.

Twelve SNO customer sites named Gold Crown winners by CSPA ?

On Friday, March 18, 2016, the Columbia Scholastic Press Associationannounced its top awards for scholastic press publications. We are pleased to announce that twelve SNO customer websites were named Gold Crown winners in digital categories.

One SNO customer was awarded a Gold Crown in the digital division:

Eleven SNO customers were awarded Gold Crowns in the hybrid division:

Congratulations to the advisers and staffs of these tremendous programs.  For a complete list of winners, please visit the CSPA website.

Thirty-one SNO customer sites named NSPA Online Pacemaker Award Finalists

Among the 50 finalists for the 2016 Online Pacemaker Award from the National Scholastic Press Association are 31 websites in the SNO network. The programs are:

Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism convention April 14-17 in Los Angeles.

SNO is proud to be the partner in success for these news organizations. The powerful tools with SNO enable over 1,900 high school journalism programs to tell stories beyond their classrooms and campuses, making the most of today’s digital platforms.

The SNO Report: Fresh FLEX and SNODrift

Fresh FLEX

Today, we released a new version of FLEX, and we all know what that means – awesome new features for your SNO Site. The latest edition of our FLEX theme comes with a new Immersive Splash Page option for your site. This feature allows you to display a single story and it’s featured image as the homepage of your site.

The splash page will be displayed anytime someone enters your URL, but your regular homepage is still viewable via the “View Full Site” link displayed at the top of the splash page. The right side of the page also features a collapsible, fully-functional menu.

Of course, to utilize this feature, you’re going to want a story with a pretty stellar featured image – the photo should be 1500×1000 pixels, as it’s meant to span the entire width of your homepage. (We’re not using the term “immersive” lightly.)

Why the new addition? Some stories are so good, they deserve an entire page. While the Showcase Carousel already does a fantastic job exhibiting your top stories, the immersive splash feature gives your site that “front page of the newspaper” effect – when there’s big, breaking news that needs to be seen, the immersive splash page makes sure that happens. If your school’sbasketball team wins the state championship, (or your program earns the honor of being a SNO Distinguished Site) the immersive splash page makes your biggest story noticeable in a whole new way.

Think you have a story that’s front page worthy? Test out the new immersive splash page feature and show us your results – we’d love to see what you come up with!  We’ll send a prize to the first program that Tweets their immersive example to us.

Join us for the first SNODrift

Today also marks the beginning of our new webinar series – if you’ve got 30 minutes to spare, you can join us at 3 p.m. CST to learn all about the basics of site design. To join, simply follow this link.

Next week Wednesday, March 16th, we’ll be covering the SNO Story Elements for your story pages.

The SNO Report: A new weekly webinar from SNO

At SNO, we take support seriously. From our training materials, support videos, online chat and phone support, and personalized training services, we’re dedicated to helping you get the most out of the SNO platform.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the start of a newweekly webinar series. Each week, a member of the SNO Patrol will provide a hands-on 30 minute demonstration of a product or feature from the SNO platform that you and your staff can join live. And if you can’t make the live session, we’ll record each one and make it available for you to view later.

To kick things off, on March 9 at 3:00pm (CST) LaurenFeller will demonstrate how to use the FLEX design options to design a stunning homepage.  To join, simply visit at 3pm on the 9th and follow the onscreen instructions.

One last thing, we need your help coming up with a clever name for this new service.  Send us your wittiest ideas.

Distinguished Sites Update

By now, you’re all probably well aware that it’s badge season here at SNO Sites.  Although we’re just over two months into our recognition program, we’ve already seen an impressive number of submissions and badge recipients.

So far, 63 programs have earned badges, with quite a few schools being first-time applicants, or even brand-new to the SNO Network. Carmel Catholic High Schoollaunched their SNO Site this November, and they’ve already managed to snag a Site Excellence badge.

While the most popularly-earned badges this season are the Site Excellence badge and the coveted “Best of SNO”Excellence in Writing badge, we encourage you to keep applying for all of the badges – even the ones you’re not feeling so confident about. If your submission doesn’t meet every guideline for one of the badges, we’ll let you know what to fix, and how to fix it.

So what’s in it for you? Oh, just the esteemed bragging rights that come along with being a SNO Distinguished Site, a fancy certificate to prove it, and a letter from us to your administrator, singing your praise. This year, seven schools have already claimed their DS crowns, which is more than double the number of Distinguished Sites we had this time last year.

Submissions will be accepted until June 1, 2016, but there’s truly no time like the present – apply today!

The newest voices in the fight for free speech, text-heavy SATs, and the most pirated album of all time: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

The fight to protect student journalists continues:

“At the highest quality institutions, censorship is, thankfully, almost nonexistent. You would never see a Princeton or Columbia trying to lay a finger on its student journalists because they know that there would be an enormous reputational price to pay. Where we do see a fair degree of censorship is at those second- and third-tier institutions, the ones that are the most reputation-conscious because they are the most financially strapped. The climate has become more and more difficult for college journalism because institutions are so obsessed with their reputations. The competition for state funding is more intense than ever. The reliance on private donors is more pronounced than ever. And the ability of a news story to live beyond a single news cycle on Google is greater than ever. For all of those reasons colleges are much more motivated to crack down on unflattering journalism than they might have been during the paper-and-ink era.” –Frank D. LoMonte

The SATs get a reading-heavy makeover:

It’s going to change who does well,” said Lee Weiss, the vice president of precollege programs at Kaplan Test Prep, one of the nation’s biggest test-preparation programs. “Before, if you were a student from a family where English was not the first language, you could really excel on the math side. It may be harder in the administration of this new test to decipher that, because there is so much text on both sides of the exam.”

New New Voices:

Maryland and Illinois join the New Voices campaign in hopes of protecting their student journalists from censorship. Maryland’s bill was introduced by Senators Jamin Raskin and Jim Rosapepe two weeks ago, while Illinois introduced a similar bill last week. Both bills aim to protect student journalists in high school and college, though students in Illinois at the college level are already protected by the College Campus Press Act.

New Hampshire Primary Coverage:

Medium shares the best of student journalism from the New Hampshire Primary— between a notable social media presence and a variety of different articles all written by high school students in the midst of the political action, there was no shortage of coverage concerning the most recent presidential primary elections.

These things also happened this week:

The 2016 Grammy Awards premiered last night. While the actual awards themselves can be exciting, most of us just tune in for the performances. Here’s a list of the best Grammy performances this year, just in case you missed it.

President Obama is searching for a new Supreme Court justice following the death of Antonin Scalia— and, while this may typically be a highly sought-after position, it’s potentially one of the worst times to land the job.

After a slight delay, Kanye West released his anticipated album The Life of Pablo exclusively on TIDAL music on Saturday; however, due to the limitation of its release, the album has been illegally downloaded over half a million times since its debut.